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Survey with error: Property Line

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by toddfeinman, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. toddfeinman

    toddfeinman 3-Year Member

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    I hired a survey company to do a survey to determine my property lines during escrow. The Title inspection report showed a possible encroachment of a backyard wall onto neighbor's property. We hired a survey company that reported no more than 3 feet encroachment. The neighbor's survey shows a 10 feet encroachment. Note that house is on a curved (cul de sac) street, and the wall has been there 50 years. How do i determine, prior to the quitet title hearing, which survey is more accurate? Are there potential valid reasons why my survey is correct and the neighbor's survey is wrong? What do i do if i lose in court because the survey i paid for was inaccurate and/or used incorrect methods?
     
  2. talladegals

    talladegals 3-Year Member

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    How was the survey done? There are different types of land surveying, with GPS being the most accurate. Measurements with GPS are accurate to within 1/16th of an inch. If one of the surveys done on the land (your neighbor's or yours) used GPS, it definitely has the more accurate result.
     
  3. Brooks Cooper

    Brooks Cooper 4-Year Member

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    Arkadelphia, Texas
    GPS can be accurate to within 1/16" or it can be out 5 feet. There are a million things that can be wrong. Most likely it has to do with interpretation and not measurement. That's my guess anyhow.
     
  4. toddfeinman

    toddfeinman 3-Year Member

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    Thanks for the timely replies. Neither survey used GPS technology. Should i ask them to repeat the surveys' with GPS? Do they need at least one accurate marker to start with? Is it considered "standard practice" now to use GPS to determine property lines? Or is it still up to each surveyor?
     
  5. Tommy Young

    Tommy Young 4-Year Member

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    > How was the survey done? There are different types of land surveying, with GPS being the most accurate. Measurements with GPS are accurate to within 1/16th of an inch. If one of the surveys done on the land (your neighbor's or yours) used GPS, it definitely has the more accurate result.

    I wonder about your qualifications to be licensed making a statement like that.

    edit: I just looked at your website. Surely you don't believe what you typed here.
     
  6. Squinty Vernier

    Squinty Vernier 4-Year Member

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    Upstate NY
    A boundary survey using GPS can be far LESS accurate than one using "traditional" methods. Under tree canopy I'll throw GPS locations of critical monuments into the rubbish bin.

    You need to talk to both surveyors, showing them each others results, to determine why the resulting lines are different. As Brooks mentioned it is most likely not a measurement issue, but one of differing deed interpretation. There may be enough data on the face of the maps to determine how the boundary line were established. Examine both maps carefully, looking for common monuments and lines. Carefully read any notations that may apply to the line in question.

    There are many and varied reasons that the lines may differ. You need to research and understand what the issues are before charging into court. Interviewing the surveyors will help, if they are willing.

    What does your attorney say? What is your relationship with the neighbor? Are your both open to compromise or has this advanced to the "blood feud" stage? Is there a location for this line that you both can live with or are you both willing to finance the college education of your attorneys offspring?

    Rick

    edit: Your title may be misleading. One, both or neither of the surveys may be in error. Which opinion will prevail is the question you should be asking. That and "Can I compromise with my neighbor to keep us out of court and save us both buckets full of cash".
     
  7. Deral of Lawton

    Deral of Lawton 4-Year Member

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    Call your surveyor and tell him if the difference in opinion. He should then call the other surveyor and discuss the , what is likely a difference in opinion, and not really a 'measurement' error. Your surveyor should be glad that you called him with this information. It's much better to work things out like this before going into court and perhaps there will not even be a need to go to court with the proper resolution.

    Many subdivisions have excess or deficiency's and this is not uncommon. Three foot or ten foot would be huge in SW Oklahoma but in many areas then it's not out of line because of the early methods that might have been use to initially survey the property.

    Your lot may come from an entirely different subdivision that your neighbors and I think it's likely the two surveyors came from very different controlling corners. Maybe there is an overlap between the lots and both surveys are technically right.

    And I'll say, it's very rare for the error to be in the measurement itself now days instead of in opinions of two surveyors.

    Ignore the GPS. I'll put my metal chain up against GPS any day of the week on a lot survey and certainly a standard total station (optical with laser measurement) will be tighter than GPS measurements.
     
  8. Nate The Surveyor

    Nate The Surveyor 5-Year Member

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    Licensed in:
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    You have 2 conflicting answers above, about tools used, and methods applied.

    The second group, which say don't trust GPS, is techlicly more right than the first.

    There are a whole slew of things, that CAN mess up GPS, and the USER never know it, or be able to qualify how much off it is. You can use GPS in what I call REPITITION format, and THEN you can develop near 100% certianty, but accuracy is still NOT as good as the above fellas are saying. This method includes shooting with GPS both ends, and the middle, and then starting over, and repeating the shots, AT A DIFFERENT TIME. Done, 3 times in one day, you can develop a better idea of how much error you REALLY have.

    ALL measurements contain error.

    Standard measuring techniques, such as transit, and tape, or Theodolite and tape, or Total Station, are better than GPS, because the USER knows that it did. With GPS, well, it has to be done several times, AT DIFFERNT TIMES OF THE DAY to develop high confidence.

    I recently used (abused) GPS in the woods, and out of 8 shots, one was bad by 7 feet. I was also using a cloth tape, and a compass, to survey between them. Guess what? The cloth tape, and compass turned out to be right, and the GPS was bad.

    So, before you spend $, talk with BOTH surveyors, and find out what is going on. BEFORE going to court, get them both to sign sworn statements, that their work is right.... MAYBE then you can get an idea of what is going on! Maybe take one to dinner, and learn, and then the other one. Remember, this is YOUR money, if you go to court, and loose, or win.

    And, so you want to KNOW all you can up front.

    N

    N
     
  9. Paul in PA

    Paul in PA 5-Year Member

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    Sounds Like The Court Will Need To Hire A Third Surveyor

    Without knowing the state you are in, many answers are total guesses.

    One item of importance; "In court the best surveyor does not win, the best attorney wins," in fact even the bad attorney wins because he also gets paid.

    Assuming you lose and want to sue your surveyor you must first hire a surveyor to prove he was wrong in his survey. The fact that a court rules against a survey in no way proves the surveyor was wrong, that is an entirely separate action.

    I would nor even consider rendering an opinion until I knew the whole why of why you are in court.

    Paul in PA
     
  10. Nate The Surveyor

    Nate The Surveyor 5-Year Member

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    As I thought a bit about it, is it possible that you have 2 lowballer surveyors, both of which are performing LOW confidence surveys, and as others have said, "mistakes were made, others will be blamed". Thus, it may be CHEAPER for you to hire a seriously professional surveyor, to perform a "HIGH CONFIDENCE SURVEY" for you, so you can be in the driver's seat, of knowledge, of what you are going to do with this thing. What I mean, is you need to KNOW, before messing with court.

    Knowledge is power, and right now, you need very high confidence, in your information sources.

    Nate
     
  11. Georges

    Georges 4-Year Member

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    Location:
    Canada
    Do you know where the markers defining your property corners are?

    Assuming they haven't been disturbed or moved (a thing that would need to be checked/confirmed by a professional land surveyor) I would say, stand up on the one corner and look at the other corner.

    3ft and/or 10ft is a good distance. What are you eyes telling you? Is there something blocking your view?

    Invite your neighbor for a coffee.

    The court is the last resort.
     
  12. Duane Frymire

    Duane Frymire 5-Year Member

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    "How do i determine, prior to the quitet title hearing, which survey is more accurate? Are there potential valid reasons why my survey is correct and the neighbor's survey is wrong? What do i do if i lose in court because the survey i paid for was inaccurate and/or used incorrect methods?"

    1) You can't. That's why a State license is required. The nature of the work is such that the consumer can not tell how good it is. Unlike a roofing contractor wherein the consumer can see the roof is leaking.

    2) Yes, kinda. There are valid disagreements over the application of evidence to the law in any given situation. Not necessarily a right or wrong thing. The evidence may be very balanced and only tip slightly in favor of one certain location over another. These disagreements can continue from between surveyors, to between courts and justices all the way to the highest court.

    3) If you lose at trial court you can try to appeal. If you lose in appellate court you can try to appeal again. If the appeals are granted you may end up winning. But you can't sue the lower court for an "innaccurate" opinion. Neither can you sue the surveyor for an "innaccurate" opinion. If the surveyor or an attorney were professionally negligent or did not fulfill the contract, then you might sue. The question in this lawsuit would not be whether the courts agreed with their opinions but rather whether they took the required steps, used by others of the profession, in the same or similar circumstances.

    4) GPS or other tools or systems of measurement have nothing to do with it.
     
  13. Darrell Andrews

    Darrell Andrews 4-Year Member

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    Short answer: NO. Two surveys have been made and regardless of how they were made it is the surveyor's responsibility to make sure the methods used meet accuracy standards of the state they practice in.

    The general public is not well informed enough to understand the benefits and limits of Survey grade GPS. The equipment is not the same as hand-held GPS, although all GPS devices use the same signals from the satellites. It is a misconception that GPS can be used for every survey.

    In the case of boundary survey and locating improvements, conventional survey methods are generally used. This means that the surveyor sets up a total station (transit) and makes angle and distance measurements to points of interest such as property corners, house corners, walls, fences, etc. Conventional survey methods have not changed much for a very long time, only the technology has, but the principles remain the same.

    Deral of Lawton had a good statement
    > Ignore the GPS. I'll put my metal chain up against GPS any day of the week on a lot survey and certainly a standard total station (optical with laser measurement) will be tighter than GPS measurements.
     
  14. Chan GePlease

    Chan GePlease 4-Year Member

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    I'm with the crowd who feels that your surveyor needs to talk with the other surveyor. There could be many reasons for a 7 foot differnce. At a minimum he needs the adjoiners descriptions. It's likely more of a description issue than somebody just blowing a measurement.

    Good luck
     
  15. Bill93

    Bill93 5-Year Member

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    Negotiate first, sue later if necessary. Lawsuits are expensive and emotional.

    Depending on your state laws and the other facts of the case, your lawyer might be able to make use of the 50-year standing of the wall to argue acquiescence that trumps a new survey.
     
  16. Deral of Lawton

    Deral of Lawton 4-Year Member

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    Well Natester, I was just pointing out that if two competent surveyors arrived at different locations based on record descriptions or conflicting evidence then he should not expect someone using GPS to resolve the problem or to somehow be of a more accurate nature. I use RTK in subdivisions but mostly because I can upload the entire subdivision plat and easily us it as a aid in recovery of block and lot corners.

    I just felt that he was led to believe that someone with GPS would resolve the difference. In fact someone using GPS might arrive at the same conclusion as either Surveyor #1 or Surveyor #2 depending upon what control he might be using.

    This does NOT seem to be a purely measurement error, in my opinion.
     
  17. Darrell Andrews

    Darrell Andrews 4-Year Member

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    > This does NOT seem to be a purely measurement error, in my opinion.

    Agreed. :good: :beer:
     
  18. 6th PM

    6th PM 4-Year Member

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    What type of "survey" was done?
    Were there property markers established?

    ---

    I'm guessing that no survey was conducted but rather a service that is less (much less) than a survey. Something along the lines an inspection report or location certificate.

    My advise is that you should speak to each surveyor, and have them speak to one another, they should resolve the issue between themselves and advise you of the proper location and the extent of the encroachments.

    If the two surveyors do not help you, you should contact the party who hired the surveyor (Realtor, Title Company, Mortgage Company, Attorney, etc) and express you concerns and dis-satisfactions.
     
  19. Brian Allen

    Brian Allen 4-Year Member

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    > I hired a survey company to do a survey to determine my property lines during escrow. The Title inspection report showed a possible encroachment of a backyard wall onto neighbor's property. We hired a survey company that reported no more than 3 feet encroachment. The neighbor's survey shows a 10 feet encroachment. Note that house is on a curved (cul de sac) street, and the wall has been there 50 years.

    "How do i determine, prior to the quitet title hearing, which survey is more accurate?"
    The surveyor that located the one true boundary line between you and your neighbor is the one that is more accurate.


    Are there potential valid reasons why my survey is correct and the neighbor's survey is wrong?
    Yes, obviously there cannot be two true accurate lines. The potential reaasons can be numerous or there can be one obvious reason. Only a properly conducted retracement survey will find the true boundary.


    What do i do if i lose in court because the survey i paid for was inaccurate and/or used incorrect methods?
    If you lose in court, the court will tell you why "you lost". The fact that two surveys disagree and two landowners are apparently headed to court typically means that both landowners have already lost, and potentially our profession has failed both of you.

    If the two surveyors involved are arguing over measurements like two teenaged boys in the locker-room, fire them and hire a surveyor that actually understands boundary surveying. Remember - "boundary surveying is NOT a measurement problem, it is an evidentiary problem."
     
  20. Chan GePlease

    Chan GePlease 4-Year Member

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    > Negotiate first, sue later if necessary. Lawsuits are expensive and emotional.

    You got that right. Keep it out of court. But it seems somebody has to figure out the 3 vs 10 ft so they know what they're dealing with. 50 yrs is a long time, so he could lose anyway
     

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